by Frank McCourt
directed by Charlotte Moore
musical direction by Rusty McGee
September 1997 – January 4, 1998
The Irish… And How They Got That Way is an irreverent history of the Irish through the tumultuous 20th and 21st centuries through the eyes of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis, Teacher Man).
McCourt’s razor sharp wit, coupled with his trademark bitter irony, and his boundless love for the Irish People are all underscored by glorious music extending all the way from the auld Irish folk ballades, through George M. Cohan’s patriotic love songs to America, World War II standards sung in movies, USOs and foxholes all over the world, and including the latest from contemporary Ireland’s U2.
“Making successful entertainment out of serious history is a rare gift. Yet from the tragic 1840s potato famine to a haunting, modern U2 anthem, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former history TEACHER FRANK MCCOURT’S RICHLY NARRATED, MUSICAL HISTORY LESSON, “THE IRISH … AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY,” IS PURE ENJOYMENT. “An exuberant, mostly Irish cast enacts McCourt’s wide-ranging material that sizzles with outrage, wit, pride and, of course, sentiment. Charlotte Moore, artistic director of the Irish Rep, has cohesively and artfully staged the work, with cast and musicians onstage in a storytelling grouping. Spirited narration of McCourt’s irony-tinged version of Irish history — combining fact, folklore, stereotypes and blarney — is interspersed with snippets or full productions of many familiar Irish songs, often accompanied by lively dancing. The troupe is backed by atmospheric projections of historical paintings, newspaper articles, letters, and black-and-white photos, yet the warmhearted production never feels like a documentary. THIS PRODUCTION OF “THE IRISH …” FULLY SUCCEEDS AS A SOULFUL, OFTEN ROLLICKING JOURNEY THROUGH 150 TUMULTUOUS YEARS OF IRISH-AMERICAN HISTORY.” — Associated Press
“Throughout the show, the music expresses a sentimental nostalgia through catch-in-your-throat numbers that make you reflexively tear up. the show concludes with U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” IT’S THE PERFECT ANTHEM FOR THOSE WHO PONDER WHAT THEY’VE GAINED — AND LOST.” — NY Post